November 2020
Region Nine Development Commission Looking to Fill Open Vacancies
Are you a county commissioner, city council member, mayor, or school board member? Do you want to help the region grow and become more resilient?

The Region Nine Development Commission is governed by 40 regional leaders. They include elected officials representing nine counties, 72 cities, 147 townships, 33 school districts, the Minnesota Valley Council of Governments, and the following public interest groups: Health & Human Welfare, Minority Populations, and Youth Commissioners.

Interested in joining? Contact Heather Bartelt at to find out if you are eligible to join.
Waseca Plans for Economic Resiliency
Economic Recovery Center

Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU-M), and Region Nine are working on a joint initiative that would launch an Economic Recovery Center using technology and virtual platforms to address urgent economic disruptions related to COVID-19. By uniting government, community, industry, and education around individual clients, the Economic Recovery Center can fill gaps in the regional economy quickly, efficiently, and with lasting results. Regional and statewide expertise will work side-by-side with business owners, plant managers, and project managers to evaluate, strategize, discover, and implement solutions that address both strategic growth needs and organizational transformations to strengthen resiliency while recovering from COVID-19. The economic recovery center would be created as a tool to foster economic recovery in the region and facilitate rapid COVID-19 recovery for South Central Minnesota.

The Economic Recovery Center would serve the nine counties in the South Central Minnesota, which include Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicollet, Sibley, Waseca, and Watonwan. To reach all communities located in the primary service area, the center would be based virtually with opportunities for on-site trainings at business’ requests, consulting, coaching, networking, and mentoring. A virtual presence combined with onsite training will allow the center to better serve the entire South Central portion of the state.  

Economic Strategic Development Plan Waseca

The City of Waseca hired Region Nine to develop a strategic economic development plan, which resulted in a four-month initiative completed between June and September 2020. The Waseca Economic Development Strategic Plan creates a comprehensive picture of Waseca’s local economy, position, and reputation within the region. Developed through a three-step process, the plan incorporated both quantitative and qualitative elements to address strategic positioning, resources and capabilities, and design of a “new Waseca” to create, capture, and sustain competitive advantages.

The plan therefore includes suggestions for tactics, potential partners, funding sources, and benchmarks in order to enhance the city’s ability to define and analyze strategic problems and to identify sources of competitive advantage from both a city and industry-level perspective. Focusing on Waseca’s unique resources and capabilities, this plan takes into consideration the impact of change and environmental forces that can create or destroy opportunities for establishing and sustaining competitive advantage.
Region Nine Continues to Respond to COIVD-19
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) contracted with Region Nine, to support the State Emergency Operation Center’s (SEOC) efforts in the response to the pandemic. This work includes one of six Site Incident Commanders for “Surge Testing” across the state. Each week, MDH held testing at six sites for three days over a period of eight weeks totaling 48 community testing events. It included State Serology Testing Incident Commander for the Serology Antibody Research Project led by MDH and University of Minnesota in Worthington. Over 1,700 Nobles County residents agreed to a blood draw antibody test to support COVID-19 research efforts as well as Regional Community Testing Incident Commander as the SEOC enters Phase 3 testing for 11 locations throughout the state until the end of January 2021. Region Nine is appreciative of the state’s rapid response testing efforts and research project to change the trajectory of the spread and support vaccine development.
Provide your input on drone technologies
MnDOT's Office of Aeronautics is seeking your feedback on drone technologies that may become available to communities in the future, such as drone delivery of medicines, packages, and food and drone use for agricultural support or search and rescue.

MnDOT Aeronautics values your input, and it will help inform the agency's plans and decisions moving forward. We encourage you to take this opportunity to provide MnDOT with your feedback and perspectives as the agency looks to support Minnesota’s future.
This survey will take about 10 minutes to complete. Responses will be accepted through November 30, 2020.
2020 CEDS Annual Performance Report
Region Nine’s 2020 Annual Performance Report (APR) serves as an update on the region's progress outlined in the 2016-2021 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS and annual performance report is posted in accordance to EDA's regulations found in the Federal Register at 13 C.F.R. part 303.

What is in the APR:

  • Regional Overview
  • Community Vitality Indicators
  • County Profiles
  • Analysis of CEDS APR Session Feedback
  • Opportunity Zones
The annual performance report is currently under public review. The public review for the APR will end on November 30. For questions or comments, contact Joel Hanif by email at
Amboy Area Community Club Seeks to Convert US Bank Building
In the summer and fall of 2020, Region Nine worked with the Amboy Area Community Club (AACC) on a feasibility study to examine options for redevelopment of the former US Bank building in Amboy’s downtown area. Region Nine utilized demographic and socioeconomic data, risk assessments, a survey of local residents and stakeholders, a SWOT analysis, and interviews with area realtors to give several recommendations on potential redevelopment plans. AACC is currently examining the study's recommendations, exploring different implementation paths, and planning next steps for the redevelopment of the property.
Get to Know St. James China Restaurant Owner,
David Ouyang
The Rural Engagement Initiative (REI) is a group of young professionals, led by Region Nine interns and fellows, that look at topics of diversity, inclusion, equity, and sustainability. REI aims to highlight community members, businesses, and community projects and practices within South Central Minnesota that support community, economic, and sustainable development. The group will be presenting new and engaging content each month that will resonate with all age groups. REI believes that engagement from all community members will not only help, but is essential, for regional resiliency and growth.
Get to Know St. James China Restaurant Owner, David Ouyang
By: Brianna Sanders, Region Nine Intern

A popular restaurant in St. James, MN is the China Restaurant or better known as China Dave’s by the locals. At the restaurant you will often be met by David Ouyang, the owner of China Restaurant since 1994. David came to the United States from Taiwan when he was 26 years old. He and his wife first decided to open up the China restaurant after he worked in Fairmont for a few years. He chose St. James to build a business because there was opportunity there for someone with less experience. In Mankato, where he lives, you often need education in business or experience in order to have a successful restaurant. He started the restaurant to give his five children an education and feels grateful for the opportunities that he and his children have. All five of them have been very successful and have all gone on to get a degree from a university. When opening a business in a rural city, David felt welcomed by the community and has felt like St. James has become part of his family. He has been able to watch children in the community grow up which he says is one of his favorite parts about the community. Although he felt at times it can be isolating in a rural community being only a few people of Asian descent in the area, he feels grateful for the support and for the future of his family. For other new business owners, he thinks that there needs to be more financial support and opportunities and thinks that people within the community can help new business owners succeed.
SMIF Announces New Rural Entrepreneurial Venture Communities
Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) recently accepted four communities to its Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) program. Each of these communities will participate in the program, which supports long-term economic growth in towns of 5,000 or less in SMIF’s 20-county region.
After a competitive application process, the following communities were selected for the 2021 – 2023 REV cohort:
  • Montgomery (Le Sueur County)
  • Springfield (Brown County)
  • Wells (Faribault County)
  • Mapleton, in collaboration with the additional Maple River School District communities of Amboy, Good Thunder and Minnesota Lake (Blue Earth/Faribault Counties).
Region Nine staff member, Linda Wallace, will be coaching in Wells. A variety of exercises and tools will be provided to the teams, including a mapping exercise to document the impacts of the program over time and a database for conducting an inventory of the existing entrepreneurs in each town.
How to Plan Social Media for 2021
Former business owner, turned marketing specialist. Miranda Murphey owned an online women’s boutique for a few years. After graduation, she started working for Taylor Corp. as an intern and was hired on full-time. In addition to working at Taylor Corp., Miranda knew as a small business owner, that they often times have to wear too many hats, so she started offering marketing services to businesses looking to outsource.

During this presentation, Miranda will discuss content management and strategy for marketing across social media platforms, how to master more than one platform, and when outsourcing might be right for you.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Zoom link will be shared via email as well as on Facebook prior to the event.
Friday, December 11th
8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.

In the Media
Four cities earn spots in economic growth program- Read more

$$ Grant Opportunities $$
CARES Act Recovery Assistance Loan Fund

Loans can range from $10,000 to $100,000. The first two years will have 0% interest, followed by 2% interest for the remainder of the loan term.

Two of the primary eligibility criteria are that the business must:

(1) demonstrate financial harm from the pandemic and (2) operate and be registered in any of the nine counties within Region Nine.

Please direct questions to

Deadline: Ongoing
Minnesota Small Business Relief Grants

This program will make available $10,000 grants to Minnesotan owned and operated businesses that can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. A total of $60.3 million is available for grant awards which will be selected through a computer-generated, randomized selection process.

Grant funds received by individual businesses shall be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, and other similar expenses that occur or have occurred since March 1, 2020, in the regular course of business. These are grants and no repayment will be required.

Deadline: Ongoing
Calendar of Events
December 1: True Tuesdays
December 11: ATP Meeting
About Region Nine
Region Nine Development Commission takes great pride in working with and on behalf of counties, cities, townships, and schools throughout South Central Minnesota. Since 1972, being a partner for progress has led to the development of programs and identification of solutions in the areas of economic development, business development, healthy communities, transportation, community development, and leveraging regional resources. To learn more about our work and mission, visit
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